Employee Connection and Engagement
Employee connection. When looking at this term, one might consider it easily defined. Generally speaking that would be true, but when looking at it from an HR perspective, the term takes on a much deeper meaning. To explain this, I turn to Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs.
In previous articles, I’ve written about the hierarchy in relation to employer branding. Having said that, there is a tie that can be made with employee connection. In fact, it would fall into the “love and belonging tier” in the diagram above.
Love and belongingness needs - friendship, intimacy, trust and acceptance, receiving and giving affection and love. Affiliating, being part of a group (family, friends, work). SimplyPsychology.org
The key word in that description is work. Employees need to feel connected to each other, but also their employer. While it might be a bit of a stretch, it makes sense when you assign “personhood” the employer.
This is the essence of engagement.
Employee Connection Importance
When this employee connection exists, it creates a sense of family. In fact, when talking to HR professionals about their culture, often most will describe it that way, as a family. As further proof, turn to the Fortune 100 Best Companies to Work For 2018 list. Pick any one company on that list and it will be easy to find at least one employee saying their company is like a family; this idea that employees feel like they are a part of something unique and larger than themselves.
This concept was studied a few years ago. According to TLNT.com:
DecisionWise studied a group of more than 363,000 employees across 52 international organizations of all sizes and shapes and asked them to rate the statement “I am proud to tell people I work at this organization.” Over three-quarters (78 percent) of these employees gave a positive response — a relatively high favorability rating.
Employee Connection How To’s
Having thoroughly defined what the employee connection is and how it relates to the company, we now have to focus on how to create or deepen existing connections and engagement.
Think for a second about employer branding. Don’t focus on the external image of the company, but the internal image; the one the employees see. What does it look like? A real, positive image is key to creating a connection with employees.
A fantastic example of this is from Cisco Systems. Macy Andrews is the Senior Director of Human Resources, Global University Recruiting and Talent Brand for the tech company. During a webinar on employer branding, Andrews said the company literally turns its social media accounts over to different employees on different days and encourages them to share their real life experiences with the world. In doing so, it creates images that represent the company and reinforces the connection the employee has with other employees and/or the company.
Another way to develop employee connection is through competition. While that may seem odd, there is something to say about friendly competition between team members. According to Talent Culture, competition forces employees to step up and work harder. In doing so, they bring out the best in one another. This often leads to employees or teams of employees seeing the value in one other and their strengths.
Corporate Social Responsibility
A third way to create these connections is through the company culture and community service. Companies that are engaged civically with their community are often seen as not only being connected with external organizations, but with employees especially if the organization is one that speaks to the core beliefs of the employee. I’m, of course referring to Corporate Social Responsibility or CSR.
This is significant, especially as you consider the rise of Gen Z in the work force. These workers are much more focused on a company’s external efforts. If aligned, these employees develop a deep connection with the company.
I started this piece with the definition of employee connection. And there’s a reason for that strategy. For HR professionals, it is very, very easy to get lost in information traffic. There is so much coming at the professional or their team at any given time, it is difficult to discern what is important and what is not. With respect to engagement, we all know it is important, but sometimes the real reason gets lost in translation. Yes, higher engagement yields higher productivity and business outcomes. Those of us who write about or work in the HR space can site study after study pointing to this fact. But why is this the case? It’s the employee connection. It’s worth saying again, connection is the essence of engagement. So, how are you connecting your employees to foster deeper engagement?
Image courtesy: Stock Photo Secrets